Maintaining normothermia and prevention of hypothermia are critical determinants of morbidity and mortality in infants. Noninvasive monitoring of skin temperature using skin temperature probes (STPs) has been a practice in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) for decades. Incubators and radiant warmers use feedback mechanisms from the STP readings to determine the heat output to maintain normothermia. Placing the STP on an ideal site on the infant's body is essential for optimum servo control of the temperature. More importantly, where is the ideal site for the STP placement? Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) vary on information regarding the site and proper placement of the STPs. The literature is analyzed to identify evidence for the ideal STP placement on infants in NICUs.
To review the literature for evidence for ideal placement for skin temperature probe placement on an infant.
OVID/MEDLINE, CINAHL, Cochrane databases, and CPGs were searched to identify research, literature reviews, and guidelines for ideal sites for STP placement. Twenty documents were reviewed.
Guidelines vary in suggested sites for STP placement. The majority of the studies compared temperature measurement between abdomen and axilla. Although a Cochrane review found abdominal skin as an ideal site, other studies did not find any difference between axially and abdominal skin temperature measurements.
Implications for Practice and Research:
Placing the STP on an ideal site is essential for accurate and safe monitoring of skin temperature in infants. NICU nurses are uniquely positioned to undertake research to identify the ideal site for STP placement to guide safe practice and impact optimal neonatal outcome.